Saturday, 5 January 2013

Happy New Makiri

WTA Sydney main draw action begins tonight and Maria Kirilenko is massively overpriced to start her 2013 season in strong fashion. Ordinarily I believe the first couple of weeks of the season are to focus on observing which players have made improvements in their game, who is looking confident and who is struggling to get their season off on the right foot.

However, Kirilenko's price looks inflated to me and worth an each-way selection. Sydney has attracted a good draw with the Australian Open following on immediately afterwards. Agnieszka Radwanska and Na Li both take their place in the top half of the draw after picking up first week titles in Auckland and Shenzhen respectively. The draw features 7 of the world's top 10 and in situations like this, so close to the start of a Grand Slam, there is always opportunity for players on the bubble of the top 10 to pick up a title while others might have a keener eye on the following week in Melbourne.

Kirilenko appears not to have suffered from my long held "tennis love" theory, in fact Maria's form has got better and better ever since she began dating NHL star Alex Ovechkin. The couple recently announced their engagement and Kirilenko will make her first appearance of 2013 in Sydney where she has a poor record historically - never going beyond the second round in five visits.

Let's take a closer look at Kirilenko's possible path to success in Sydney, she begins her campaign with a first round encounter against Australian wildcard Olivia Rogowska. A second round match-up with Sara Errani is likely before a potential major stumbling block in Petra Kvitova followed by Angelique Kerber in order to reach the final. The path is certainly challenging but neither Errani, Kvitova or Kerber showed anything to be daunted by during their performances in Brisbane.

At 50/1 Kirilenko is overpriced and has a realistic chance of doing well, although judging how a player will start their season is never an exact science. It's impossible to gauge how rusty a player might be going into a new season and we'll only know the reality of that once the action begins for that particular player. Kirilenko has become a very hard player to beat over the past year or so, giving little away and playing a solid game with good margin. For these reasons, it is easier to feel comfortable in believing she will, at the very least, begin her season without a slew of errors in attempts to discover any degree of rhythm.

Radwanska and Kerber head the betting at 11/4 and 4/1, but we'll begin our season with a small outlay of 1 point in total on Makiri.

0.5* Maria Kirilenko to win Sydney (each-way) @ 50/1 (Paddy Power) (each-way terms 1/2 odds 1-2 places)

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